By todays religious standards, the Primitive Baptists are quite unique. Probably one of the most quickly noticed differences among the Primitive Baptists in comparison to the religious world today, is the fact that we have no man made instrumentation in our worship services. At first glance, one unfamiliar with the church might think that it is just some tradition, perhaps based on early church poverty, or some other event through time that shaped our practices. However, with most things in the church, there is a scriptural reason to conduct ourselves in this manner.
What does the scripture say?
To lay some ground work, I’d like to briefly bring your attention to a couple of texts.
First, we read in Matthew chapter 16, of a conversation between Christ Jesus and his disciples. The question is posed by Jesus “…whom say ye that I am?” Matthew 16:15. Simon Peter answers, saying “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replies through Matthew ch16: verses 17-19. Part of his reply is this, “…upon this rock (Christ) will I build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Notice Jesus says to Peter, HE will build HIS church on HIMSELF. Wouldn’t it be logical to conclude that Jesus would build His church the way He wanted it? Of course! Did this include instruments? NO!Second, we read in John chapter 4:23, “But the hour is cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the father in spirit and in truth:for the father seeketh such to worship him.” To truely worship, one must worship in spirit and in truth. How can we worship in truth, if we worship with any added invention of man? We must worship in the true method ordained by the master!
In the epistle of Ephesians, in the 5th chapter Paul writes of godly living (Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children..Eph 5:1). He writes of things we should avoid, as well as things we should do.In Ephesians 5:18-21, Paul says “And be ye not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”Paul tells us to be filled with the spirit, then tells us how: by speaking in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. It makes a melody in our hearts to the Lord. There is no mention of piano keys, or brass horns, strings, or any other type of instrument. While they are fine outside the church, one cannot make melody in his heart by playing a horn, only singing. This is the Lords way!Also, in the Colossian letter, Paul says “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Col 3:16 Paul tells us to sing with our God given instruments, our voices! As mentioned above, this gives us relief: as it fills us with the spirit. It literally recharges us with the Spirit!
What does history tell us?
History records that the first musical instrument did not arrive into a “worship” service until the year 666 A.D. by the Roman Catholic Church. Until that time, all music was unaccompanied by instruments (singing only) in any variation of Christianity, regardless of how close to the true church it was. It took over 600 years for someone to stray far enough, to add instruments to church.Also, the term we often use to represent music by voice alone is acapella (A Cappella). The very definition of this word, is “in the style of a chapel.” This old word, describes singing before the use of instruments in church. Today, the world uses it merely to describe music unaccompanied by instrument…but it is better known as true “music in a chapel.” Music as God intended it.
What about instruments in the Old Testament?
Many claim that since instruments were used in the Old Testament, they are fine in a New Testament service. For that belief, we should turn to two passages in the book of Amos.Amos 5:23; Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.Amos 6: Verse 1 Woe to them…Verse 5 That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music, like David.Amos delivers a rather negative opinion of the addition of instruments (the viol, and other invented instruments) to the Old Testament service. If it were an error to invent instruments then, why would it be ok now, especially since the Lord didnt include them when He set up His church?
Musical instruments are a wonderful thing. I personally play the trumpet and guitar. I, nor any other Primitive Baptist (to my knowledge) has anything against instruments away from church service. However, if we wish to worship in spirit and truth, we must follow our masters example and commands, and sing from our hearts with our voices.